Cheese and vitamin K2

If you've been following the Track Your Plaque conversation, you know that, contrary to prevailing opinion among many cardiologists, there is an emerging notion that coronary calcification is an active process, a true part of the disease.

Vitamin D3 is an important aspect of this question. So is vitamin K2. Not to be confused with K1 that plays a role in blood coagulation, K2 has an important role in calcium metabolism. Thus, vitmain K2 deficiency is related to osteoporosis and to coronary calcification.

Getting K2, like getting D, is difficult from food sources. The choices for K2 sources includes:

--Natto--generally, an impalatable choice. I've had it and it was intolerably gooey and weird-tasting. It is, nonetheless, the most concentrated food source of K2.

--Pate--Though liver products have the potential for containing many other unhealthy things, like pesticide residues, since the liver acts as a filter for the blood.

--Fermented cheeses--Since K2 is a product of fermentation of cheese, as it is in Natto.

For years, we've advised people to avoid or minimize cheese because of saturated fat or cholesterol content. I think that there's reason to re-think this advice based on the emerging data.

How can you tell the difference between fermented and non-fermented cheese? First, look for the holes in the cheese. The holes are the remnants of gas pockets created during fermentation. Second, look for the word "cultures" on the label, meaning organisms for fermentation were added. If "processed cheese" is anywhere on the label, this is a dairy product that has been chemically coagulated and is not fermented.

Fermented cheeses are generally "gourmet" cheeses, not eaten a pound at a time on a pizza, but meant to be eaten in small portions.

How much fermented cheese is necessary for its presumed inhibitory benefits on coronary calcification and osteoporsis? Are some fermented cheeses better than others? These issues remain unsettled. Stay tuned.

Comments (5) -

  • Anonymous

    6/5/2007 11:06:00 PM |

    I am really confused on your recommendation on trying to get k2 from food or cheese. Since you mention there is no way to tell how much k2 you are getting. I do notice that you dont mention supplements as an option to this problem. Since you are not opposed to supplements and k2 supplements are available now, I would think you would at least mention this as the solution in the meantime.

  • Dr. Davis

    6/6/2007 1:53:00 AM |

    That's because this conversation was meant to supplement a full discussion on vitamin K2 posted on the website this Blog accompanies. In a full Special Report on, we have a full conversation about nutritional supplements.

  • Brock Cusick

    11/26/2008 3:14:00 PM |

    There are two kinds of K2 - MK-4 and MK-7.  Natto is MK-7 and all animal sources are MK-4.  Further, Dr. Weston Price did not find any examples of healthy primitive cultures that relied on MK-7. Every one used MK-4 animal sources.

    The most concentrated sources of MK-4 are butter oil, fish liver oil and organ meats (such as foi gras). Cheese is a pretty dilute source by comparison.

  • buy jeans

    11/3/2010 3:19:33 PM |

    For years, we've advised people to avoid or minimize cheese because of saturated fat or cholesterol content. I think that there's reason to re-think this advice based on the emerging data.

  • Anonymous

    2/5/2011 5:46:07 PM |

    Did you do any research on cheese at all before you posted this blog? Look for cheeses that have holes in it because it is a product of fermentation... All REAL cheese is fermented. It does not need to have holes to be fermented. The holes are from fermentation or culturing by a specific type of bacteria- propionic bacteria. Also, processed cheese starts off as real cheese and is then processed with heat, mechanical means, chemicals, etc. While you should definitely stay away from it because of these chemicals and the creation of oxidized cholesterol, the assertion that it is not fermented is false.